Volume 7 - Issue 11
November 2009
Other Articles

DISCOURSE QUIZ

ON BHAJAN SINGING

Right answer on your 1st attempt
3 Points
Right answer on your 2nd attempt
2 Points
Right answer on your 3rd attempt
1 Point

“Those who sing bhajans get what can be called 'double promotion,' for they derive joy and distribute joy!” Bhagavan said on one occasion. Undoubtedly, the bliss of singing bhajans is incomparable. And Swami says this is one of the easiest ways to experience divinity. However, how exactly should we sing bhajans? What kind of bhajans should we choose? Should we sing alone or in groups? You will find answers to all these questions and more when you take the following quiz. All the questions are based on divine discourses delivered by Bhagavan Baba over the last few decades.

1. During a Divine Discourse in 1976, Swami explained how the idea of akhanda bhajans originated to be taken place before Swami’s birthday every year: “Last November, on the 23rd, people from all parts of the world had assembled here to celebrate the Golden Jubilee and office-bearers of the centres were here for the Second World Conference and other functions that took place.

Later they expressed their desire that they be allotted a date before the close of the jubilee year, when they in their own places could celebrate the happy occasion. In order to overcome their disappointment it was decided that in all centres all over the world, bhajan and naama-sankeerthan (congregational singing and spirituals) be held for full twenty four hours, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday (yesterday) and ending at 6:30 p.m. today. Therefore in 42 countries around the globe more than 7,000 centres have enthusiastically taken up this pleasant assignment.”

According to Swami, what exactly does akhanda bhajans mean?

Singing before any saints holy Birthday
Singing to please the Lord
Singing without a break
Singing in a chorus

 

2.In a Divine Discourse delivered in 1986, Swami teaches the importance of singing to the Lord: “Not all realize the potency and efficacy of reciting the Lord's name. The first requisite is purity of thought, word and deed. The name that is uttered by the tongue should be meditated upon by the mind. What is uttered and dwelt upon should be hailed by clapping the hands. This threefold concentration on the Divine name - unity of mind, speech and action - purifies the heart and nourishes the feeling of devotion.

Better than recounting the qualities of the Lord, singing His glories or relating His exploits and teachings, the chanting of the name is supremely edifying. When the chanting of the Name is done in community singing, it should be in a form in which the entire group can participate easily. The tune, the rhythm, etc. should be such that all can follow the bhajan. If the lead singer takes up a song that is not familiar to others, the response from the group will be poor. There will be no enthusiasm or genuine participation. Their minds will be distracted.”

According to Swami, what happens when everybody is in rhythm with the lead singer during a bhajan session?

More bhajans can be sung!
The vibrations that are produced generate joy and harmony
The people are less bored or sleepy!
The unity creates inspiration to learn and share more bhajans

 

3.Swami often says: “Do not monopolize the time in bhajan by singing one song for six or ten minutes, repeating the same line often. Repeat each line twice and no more. Have only two speeds: one slow and the other fast. In this way, you can have in the hour of bhajan, more songs on more Forms, more tunes and more variety, giving more people the chance.”

During a Divine Discourse delivered in 1972, Swami tells us clearly what type of bhajans should be sung: “The scriptures lay down Bhajan (group devotional singing), Naamasmaran (Remembering God's Name) and Sankeerthan (devotional music) as the Sadhanas (spiritual practices) of this Age. Bhajan is the process of singing your prayers to God, praising His glory and compassion, and pleading that He may fill you with His Grace. Dr. Hislop has as a result of many years of research, declared that prayer has a highly curative effect on the body and mind of man. That is the result of constant Bhajan and recital of the Name.”

According to Swami, what should the lead singer focus on when it’s his/her time to sing?

The bhajans must be extremely simple!
The focus should be on making sure everyone is singing along too!
The singer must sing on an empty stomach
The singer must refer to various Names and Forms of God

 

4. During a Divine Discourse delivered in 1992, Swami demonstrated how any song that is sung melodiously could tug at the heart-stings: “The words of a song can be expressed in prosaic manner, which has no appeal to the listener. But when they are sung melodiously as in the song: "Rama! Nannu Kaapaadu" "Rama! Save me," they tug at the heart-strings. (Swami sang the song to demonstrate its appeal). Such sweetness is contained in the song when it is rendered melodiously.

Everyone, whether he is well versed in music or not, should listen attentively to the singer and try to repeat the words of the song with feeling. Some persons attending bhajans do not move their lips at all. They may say that they are singing the songs mentally within themselves. This is not proper. If you have devotional feeling, it should be expressed by the tongue joining in the bhajan. Only then can it be called Sankeerthana - singingin unison with others.”

What is Swami’s advice on how the Name of the Lord should be sung while singing bhajans?

Loud and full-throated
Everybody should want a chance to lead a bhajan
Everyone should be filled with complete joy
Each devotee must have a tear in the eye

 

5.In a Divine Discourse delivered in 1968, Swami teaches us how bhajan singing should be conducted: “Have bhajans (group singing of devotional songs) on as many days as you can, in your village or area. Have them in places where all can come and join, and not in the homes of some people, for in homes not all maybe welcome. Have them as simple as you can, without competitive pomp or show; reduce expenses to a minimum, for God cares for the inner yearning and not the outer trappings. Even this small unavoidable expenditure must be silently shared spontaneously by a few members of the Committee, and not collected by means of a plate or hundi pot, or a subscription or donation list.

“The participants must be bound by love, affection and loyalty to one Name and Form. Bhajans are best held on Thursday evenings and Sunday evenings - but that is no unbreakable rule, for it is not the day of the week that counts. It is the heart that must be ready and eager to imbibe the joy and share it. As a matter of fact, bhajan is a constant exercise; it has to be as essential as breathing.”

According to Swami, what type of bhajans must be arranged for group singing in the Sathya Sai Organisations?

Only bhajans listed in the Sai Bhajan book
Only bhajans that are sung at Prashanthi Nilayam
Whatever suits the convenience of the locality and the people
To avoid confusion, the same bhajans could be sung every where

 

6. In a DivineDiscourse in 1974, Swami sternly reprimands those conceited bhajan leaders who sing for pomp and praise: “Bhajans (congregational devotional singing) have to be sung and offered to God in an attitude of utter humility; they are not to be taken as exercises in an exhibition of talents and as competitions for mastery of musical skill. They have to please the Lord, not your fans. With each bhajan song, the mind must be rendered purer, freer from passion, and stronger in faith. But, you find that you do not succeed in this task. The adoration does not arise from the heart; nor is it addressed to the Supreme by the sincere Self. It is tainted by the admixture of envy, pride and hate. How can prayers so fouled reach God?

“For example, I find that when any new devotee sings, others leave him alone and do not sing lines after him! They ignore him and insult him in this manner. But, when one of themselves, one of the usual group leads with a song, they join enthusiastically. This kind of group politics has no place among Sai devotees and cannot be tolerated in Sai Bhajan groups. I find this evil trait spreading in most Bhajan Mandalis - members divided into rival groups competing for chances to sing, trying to attract the attention and appreciation of the people. Urged by this selfish motive, they discourage the sincere bhajan singers; they keep mum when they offer their songs; this means either that they have lost their voice or that their hearts have been so deadened by selfishness.”

According to Swami, what type of atmosphere should prevail for ideal bhajan singing?

Where everyone comes without bringing in their problems
Where everyone sits quietly
Where the feeling of unity prevails
Where mediation is done before and after bhajans

 

7. In a Divine Discourse delivered in 1994, Swami justifies bhajans singing as the panacea for this Kali Age! “Just as a cow's milk can be got only from the udder and not from any other part of the cow, God's image can be visualized only by those with a heart full of love and which is pure and free from selfishness. God cannot be perceived by those with impure minds and polluted hearts. The Sun cannot be seen when he is covered by a cloud. But when the wind sweeps the cloud away, the effulgent sun becomes visible. Likewise man has to drive away the cloud of ignorance enveloping his mind by meditating on God. In this Kali Age there is no greater or easier means of realizing God than chanting His name.”

What explanation does Bhagavan give to the argument of why can’t bhajans be sung alone?

There is no enthusiasm then
It can get dull and lonesome
The vibrations return as reaction
It doesn’t leave an impact

 

8. During a Divine Discourse in 1976, Swami teaches us that if one is singing a bhajan in the form of a prayer, the prayer should come shrieking through the heart: “When a man falls into a well, of what use is it if he controls his voice and his emotions and whispers quietly, "I have fallen into this well, I have fallen into this well. I am in great danger. Please save me?" No one will be able to hear or save him. He must shout full-throated, with all the anguish he is experiencing and with the extreme desire to be' saved, ‘I have fallen into the well! Save me! Save me some one!’ Then can he hope to get succour?”

According to Swami, when a prayer comes shrieking from the heart, what is the end result?

It depends if it is with faith or not
Help is assured
God tests the devotee if he really means it
Devotee has to relax and not keep begging over and over!

 

9.In a Divine Discourse delivered in 1986, Swami stresses that community singing should be vibrant and soulful: “Community bhajans should not be treated as a pastime. When thousands of persons join in singing bhajans, they should be fully absorbed in the devotional process and the ecstasy of that experience. The singing should be vibrant and soulful and not mechanical or drawling and uninspiring. It should combine bhava (feeling), raga (melody) and tala (rhythm). What delight can be experienced when all sing in chorus, with the same feeling, in the same tune and to the same timing! When there is such unity the Divine can be experienced.”

Swami advised further: “The songs should glorify the Name rather than describe the attributes of the Lord.” Why?

People may not understand the depth
One can develop doubts
One could develop too much attachment
The intensity in feelings could be lost

 

10. In a Divine Discourse delivered in 1988, Swami insists on the participation of youth in singing: “Some among the modern youth are singing bhajans and participating in nagarsankirthan. Looking at this, some elders are questioning, ‘Why should these youth take up this sort of activity in this age? They should do this only after they retire from service, in their old age.’ This is totally wrong. Remembering God and chanting His name should be done without break always, at all places and in all situations - Sarvada Sarvakaleshu Sarvatra Harichinthanam.”

What reason does Swami give for the youth’s participation in religious activities?

So that they can have realization before they leave the world
To ensure they are kept busy
To understand the importance of their religion
To make good friends

 

Dear Reader, did you like this quiz? Is it too difficult? Is it interactive enough? Would you like more such quizzes? Please help us in serving you better by writing to [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

- Heart2Heart Team

 

Go to Radio Sai
Go to Publications Division Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust
Go to Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust
counter for wordpress